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Earth Observation for Monitoring and Observing Environmental and Societal Impacts of Mineral Resources Exploration and Exploitation

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Keeping a close eye on mining operations

Earth Observation (EO) services are being developed by EU researchers to monitor the impact of mining. To take the appropriate action, we must find out how mining activities are affecting our environment.

Climate Change and Environment

In recent years, an increasing percentage of the raw materials such as minerals that the EU consumes has been imported. This means that the environmental footprint of the EU's material consumption has shifted from Europe to other parts of the world. Thus, understanding and monitoring pollution processes in mining areas is of global concern. EO methods are required to monitor and observe the environmental and societal impacts of mining. These include satellites in space and sensors on the ground, at sea or in the air. The EO-Miners project, funded by the EU, will use EO-based methodology and tools to monitor the exploration and mining of mineral resources. An extensive review of stakeholder policies related to the impact of the mining and mineral industry has been carried out by the project. Interviews and meetings of local stakeholders have been conducted at mines in the Czech Republic, Kyrgyzstan and South Africa. In addition, a considerable amount of EO-based data and other information has been collected about these mining test sites. Based on the policy analysis, the EO-Miners project has identified a list of over 50 relevant indicators. These will be used to assess the environmental, socioeconomic and societal footprints of the mineral extraction industry at every stage, from site exploration through exploitation until closure. The EO-Miners project has laid the foundations for environmental monitoring of the test sites. Based on further results, the project will develop a 'trialogue' between the three main groups involved. These three-way discussions will help reconcile interests so as to reach a common agreement on actions to deal with the environmental and societal impacts of mining activities.

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